Odisha minister in soup over availing houses on quota

Bhubaneswar, Nov 9: The opposition parties in Orissa Wednesday demanded the resignation of state Law Minister Bikram Keshari Arukh after he admitted that two houses were allotted to his family under the development authority’s discretionary quota.

The minister in his property statement recently cited availing the houses from state-run Bhubaneswar Development Authority (BDA) — one in 2007 and the other in 2009 — here.

The allotments, one each to him and his wife respectively, were made under the discretionary quota of the departmental ministers concerned at that time.

According to the house allotment guidelines of the BDA, a person already having a house either in his name or in the name of one of his family members is not eligible for a second house, state Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) vice president Ashok Sahu told IANS.

‘The minister has not only violated it by availing two, he has also deliberately concealed the truth by not disclosing the right information to the authorities,’ he said.

‘It appears that he availed the second house without disclosing the fact that he already had one earlier. He should resign immediately,’ he added.

Niranjan Patnaik, the state unit president of the Congress, said the incident has once again proved that Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik of the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) and his ministers were involved in corruption and they do not follow any rules.

Arukh said he has not taken possession of both the houses. ‘I have not done any illegalities. I will return one of the houses,’ he said.

The chief minister said he would look into the matter.